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Bread charge at JK Wine Bar [moved from Toronto]

John Dec 20, 2005 05:07 PM

Love this place - great wines; service friendly to brisk depending on how busy they are, but always well informed; delicious food; well-judged pairings. Don't mind waiting for a table since I don't like sitting at the bar.

One cavil: does anyone join me in thinking $3 for a small(very tasty) bread basket is a bit much ? If one is ordering food shouldn't it be served automatically and without charge ? It's not the money but the principle of the thing that bugs me.

  1. NovoCuisine Oct 15, 2006 01:56 PM

    I believe they do this at Chiado too.

    I have no issue with charging for bread, but I would like to know about it, I suppose. Charging for bread is becoming a larger trend, but right now I am used to receiving it for free - so if a server asks me if I would like some bread, and then I see a charge for it at the end of the night, I feel a little duped. But I won't cry over $3.

    1. pinstripeprincess Oct 12, 2006 02:17 PM

      i'm curious now... specifically referring to jkwb, for those of you who have gotten the bread basket (not the flat bread and dips), what kind of bread have you gotten?

      we ordered up some pate and the two walnut tuiles they give you are far from enough to finish it (a gripe on it's own similar to julesrules') and so ordered the bread basket. everything that came in that tasty bread basket was an incredibly poor match for dipping, spreading, etc. we were eating cheesy bread sticks, garlic bread, other breads with intense flavour... obviously artisanal in nature and it's own unique dish at a small plate wine bar type place. if i was getting hum drum stale bread, i'd be offended at the pricing... but i'm not. good bread requires skill and i'm willing to pay for that skill.

      my only frustration with not receiving that little basket of bread... sometimes i'm walking into a restaurant STARVING and i know it'll take 15 minutes for that app to show up so i need something to munch on. amuse bouche, bread or whatever else have you that takes 2 minutes to put together.

      1. j
        julesrules Oct 12, 2006 12:55 PM

        Oh here's one the pisses me off - at Poppa's Grill on the Danforth (Toronto). They sell all the usual Greek appetizer dips. My group usually gets the big mixed plate to share. It comes with MAYBE two pita breads sliced up - not enough pita for all the dip even with generous dip application.
        But, they charge for extra pita. They will bring you free soft white sesame bread, but extra pita - that's gonna cost ya! They set up the expectation that the dips will go better with pita, but don't provide enough. And this happens when we are a big group of 6 - 10 people ordering apps, mains and always plenty of alcohol.

        Leaves a bad impression and now someone mentions it whenever that place gets suggested, and we go elsewhere.

        1. c
          chefjunior Oct 12, 2006 05:34 AM

          See here's my point. We use one of the best bakeries in the city, bring in fresh bread everyday. would you rather i just charge 3 dollars more for every dish? or would you rather i charge you a fair price for what you're eating, and if you feel like bread, you can order a nice sized portion for 2 DOLLARS? i have to pay someone to slice the bread, to bring it out to you, to wash the plate it came out on. i have to pay for the gas for the oven to warm the bread up. I'm not kvetching, i'm just trying to understand this mentality, where free things are EXPECTED. when you go to a bar and order a beer, you don't expect a free shot with it do you? Everything costs money, and it's the #1 reason why restaurants go under, is because they can't control their costs, because theyr'e too busy giving free crap away, left right and center.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chefjunior
            danna Oct 12, 2006 06:55 PM

            Shot, no. But if I dip my greedy little fingers in the bowl of salty peanuts, I expect them to be free.

            It's just custom. I'm sure your customers appreciate the high quality bread and it's one of the reasons they come to your rest. in the first place.

            1. re: danna
              silence9 Oct 12, 2006 06:58 PM

              Good point. Also, if we continue with the bar analogy, some bars do have a thing called happy hour, where not only are the drink prices reduced, but free bar food (of varying quality or lack thereof) IS provided gratis...

          2. t
            taco_belle Oct 11, 2006 04:03 PM

            I was in a restaurant last week that provides
            the first basket "on the house" and has a small
            charge ($2 or $3) for additional. I don't object
            to that approach. Unfortunately, the bread wasn't
            very good - sort of Sara Lee like.

            1. JAB Oct 11, 2006 02:52 PM

              As long as it's on the menu, I don't mind. Now, if it's delivered to the table without asking and then charged on the bill, we have a problem.

              1. c
                chefjunior Oct 10, 2006 01:51 AM

                I'm a chef at a restaurant here in toronto. We charge 2$ for bread as well. I'm not sure why people still go into a restaurant and expect free stuff. It all has to be paid for some how!! We chose to keep our menu prices as low as possible and charge for bread, rather than just give unlimited supplies of bread, only 1/2 of which ever gets eaten, but we have to throw out anyway. Free bread has long been a peeve of mine. Lots of people just much on bread, instead of paying for an appetizer that we can make money on. Nothing is free in life folks. Sorry.

                7 Replies
                1. re: chefjunior
                  bestandworst Oct 10, 2006 02:22 AM

                  I take exception to that. I am not cheap when I eat. I order what I am in the mood for and as much as I need for my appetite. I simply expect the resto to price their dishes adequately to allow themselves to pay for all ingredients and overhead in order to stay in business and be profitable. I am not looking for freebies, but when i order a hamburger I want a bun, and when I order soup or pasta, I want some bread. When I order eggs in the morning, I want some toast.

                  I had a standard-fare omelette for 10.95 on Queen E the other morning and asked for toast to eat with it, as it came bare. The server asked if I wanted the breads with dip or the bread selection with butter and jam. I said I just want a couple pieces to go with my eggs. The response was "that will be 2.50 for a small bread with butter". OK so it seems that particular resto needs 13.45 for my version of an omelette in order to be successful. I decided it wasn't special enough to go back there for that item...but it could have been.

                  Serving fresh bread or crackers along with perhaps a house dip or flavoured butter is an easy way to make your patrons feel special at dinner. I love when a server surprises me with a treat, be it a bread basket, amuse, a pickle platter, or a cookie with my coffee.

                  It makes me feel more like a personal guest and it can sometimes be the reason to visit a particular resto over another.

                  In my opinion, free bread shouldn't be mandatory, it is just a way for a resto to show off their style, and to perhaps make their patrons feel welcome and appreciated.

                  1. re: chefjunior
                    jfood Oct 10, 2006 11:19 PM

                    From the customer’s perspective, bread is part of overhead like ketchup, mustard, jelly, water, and plates, knifes and forks. Each of these items have either direct or indirect costs of placing on the table. Could you imagine the reaction of customers if these items started to accrue surcharges?

                    If your resto throws out half the bread, and it is causing a cash drain, you may want to have the waiters ask if the customers would like bread, or you may have to re-think whether the bread you are buying is not the quality you think and change bakeries.

                    I can not imagine going to a resto and thinking to myself that I’ll munch on bread versus ordering an app. Hate to say this but if that is the choice your customers are making you may want to reconsider the choice of apps you are serving.

                    1. re: chefjunior
                      danna Oct 11, 2006 02:01 PM

                      If I'm in a tradtional restaurant, i expect free bread. If it's a wine bar or tappas place, where I could conceivably really under-order, then I don't mind the bread charge.

                      In fact...I almost like it. It relieves my uneasiness about eating a ton of it, asking for it to brought out ASAP, and then asking for more. My favorite tappas place has really nice bread!

                      1. re: danna
                        julesrules Oct 11, 2006 02:25 PM

                        Now see with tapas I expect free bread - lots of sauce that needs mopping, plus I feel I need a starch to complement the rich dishes. It just seems like part of the meal.

                        With Chinese, I know they have a menu charge for steamed rice, but in many cases if you are a large table ordering many dishes don't they give you piles of rice for no charge or maybe charge for one order?

                        1. re: julesrules
                          bestandworst Oct 11, 2006 05:00 PM

                          Once upon a time....rice and tea were always free at chinese restos....alas...

                          1. re: bestandworst
                            jfood Oct 11, 2006 11:08 PM

                            Huh? You pay for rice and tea at Chinese? OMG, never happened at my tables. But wait I did notice that the free tea bag in the take-out bag has been missing for a few years. Now I'm mad.

                            1. re: jfood
                              Blueicus Oct 11, 2006 11:59 PM

                              If you go to a reputable (even an average or bad place) for dim sum, chances are you will be charged a per person tea charge (in North America and Asia, at least). Of course, if you are in with the management, you can usually get that waived.

                    2. g
                      garp Dec 24, 2005 05:17 PM

                      I think it's more than fair - I've been to places where they plop down a day-old bun for free and think that's good food service.

                      Also, most Chinese restaurants charge money for steamed white rice - noone seems to complain about that.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: garp
                        Marjorie Jan 5, 2006 02:34 PM

                        Brilliant response.

                      2. t
                        Tom Dec 23, 2005 08:12 AM

                        I should start by saying I'm not a JK Wine Bar fan.
                        There are lots of things we expect to get without extra charge in a restaurant. Salt, pepper, condiments, relishes, sugar, cream and service. The more expensive the restaurant the more we expect including cloth napkins, elegant decoration, complimentary coat checking, music and even more free service ie MaitreD's, bus boys, wine steward. Some restaurants particularly steak houses include pickles, cottage cheese and garlic bread.
                        I would guess that 99% of the restaurants in the JK Wine Bar category provide bread as complimentary. I too was annoyed at being charged for bread especially when the waiter pushed the most expensive variety. Just one of the reasons why the restaurant did not meet my expectations.

                        1. j
                          Juniper Dec 22, 2005 09:14 AM

                          I very very rarely get into these sorts of debates. However, I thought I'd add my two cents this time.

                          Frankly, I don't see a problem with charging for bread. Yes, bread is a staple of a Western dining room table, however, so are potatoes. And by all accounts, you pay for potatoes with your meal so why would you not expect to also pay for bread?

                          And remember, when a restaurant provides bread for free, that is not all that it provides for free. If you provide bread, you need to also provide butter, hummus, olive oil, or some other condiment to go with the bread. This can become a very expensive proposition for an industry where profit margins are slim. If it were only about providing bread, it perhaps would not be such an issue, but it's never just about the bread.

                          Personally, I like the way that the Beer Bistro does it. They do not give you bread when you're seated. Instead, if you order something like stew or mussels, bread comes with that particular dish. So you end up paying for it in the price of that dish, but you're not without it when eating something that would go well with bread.

                          1. j
                            Jean Dec 22, 2005 02:03 AM

                            You're at JK, what do you expect,wear the shoes that fit! I don`t thnk JK wants customers who give a hoot about $3 bread.

                            1. w
                              willis Dec 21, 2005 05:16 PM

                              as someone else said, you just pay for it in the rest of the meal anyway. this way, if you want bread with your meal. i'm not paying for it :)

                              also agree that i would rather pay for good artisinal bread than have standard loblaws fare for free

                              1. l
                                Lamaranthe Dec 21, 2005 02:29 PM

                                In MOO, bad move. Bread should come free with the order. Charge more for each other if you wish, but don't show it as a 'special item'. Are they going to charge also for a glass of water? Come on...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Lamaranthe
                                  jill Dec 22, 2005 08:08 AM

                                  Comparing a bread charge to a glass of water isn't the same. Water is free from the tap, bread is not.

                                  The style of food at JK is not a 'complete meal' I wouldn't expect bread to be free. Perhaps one slice with a bowl of soup or mussels wouldn't be a lot to ask, but a basket for $3 isn't a big deal.

                                  1. re: jill
                                    fatboy44 Dec 22, 2005 01:06 PM

                                    Very well said! It is a small plate / tapa style menu so see the bread basket as part of that. Especially house made specialty bread, which is time consuming and difficult to make.

                                2. 2
                                  2-cents Dec 21, 2005 12:23 PM

                                  We're talking about this item, right:

                                  Grilled Flatbread with Three Dips

                                  Maybe the $3 is for the dips? At any rate, maybe JKWB would provide some "regular" bread (i.e. not the grilled flatbread) for free (I can't be sure, but I think I remember asking for - and reciving - a couple slices of baguette once, to sop up some sauce from one of the dishes).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: 2-cents
                                    John Dec 21, 2005 03:35 PM

                                    No wasn't talking about the flat breads with dips; that strikes me as fair game for a charge - but usually they feature a bread basket, also for $3 - at least the times I have been there.

                                  2. f
                                    fatboy44 Dec 21, 2005 10:51 AM

                                    If you have a variety of small dishes at reasonable prices you have to charge for every thing including the bread. The problem with giving bread for free is that now you go in and order, steamed mussels with a delicious sauce and...free bread. The bread will be competing with the rest of the menu and therefore you have to charge for it. Would be great....let's go to JKWB and have a bowl of soup and 5 baskets of free bread. I would think that JKWB would be a defunct entity real quick.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: fatboy44
                                      fatboy44 Dec 21, 2005 11:02 AM

                                      If you go for lunch and you have a bowl of soup with a bagel...unless it says on the menu 'soup with a bagel'...you do not get charged for the bagel? I like to know where that is.

                                      1. re: fatboy44
                                        Vinnie Vidimangi Dec 21, 2005 10:28 PM

                                        In fairness you get a free bread basket in the restaurant, but the soup that you pair with the bread, chicken noodle, costs you $17 plus plus a bowl.
                                        Finally making good money, and doing so by giving up trying to serve a conventionally composed and good meal, has Kennedy started to believe in his own bullshit with JK Restaurant?

                                    2. g
                                      George W. Dec 20, 2005 06:04 PM

                                      One way or the other I am sure we always pay for the bread. I like sitting at the bar at JKWB and I believe many baskets of bread would clutter up the bar "table". I personally see nothing wrong with charging for the bread - I have been there a number of times and I have never ordered it (and my waisteline doesn't need it).

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: George W.
                                        jayseeca Dec 20, 2005 08:26 PM

                                        I've been there several times, and only once got the bread... it was really good, but I do think it's odd to charge $3 for a little basket. I find a lot of their food would also be great with bread, but it easily runs out. If anything, I'd like it if they gave more than a little basket, or anything... but I still love the place!

                                        1. re: George W.
                                          Pebbles Dec 20, 2005 10:06 PM

                                          With such wonderful menus I've never felt the need for bread at JKWB. Ever since he put it on the menu I still haven't tried it....too many other good things to keep room for!!

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